Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Evolve Work in Magic?
No, silly, you're not playing Pokemon's TCG; Magic has some evolution in it as well. Evolve is a mechanic generally seen on creatures from the green or blue factions. When another creature enters the field under your control with either a bigger power or toughness stat, you place a +1/+1 counter on your evolve card. Thus, as stronger troops join the fray, your evolve spell continuously gains strength, but it gets harder and harder to improve as the match continues since those counters make evolve's threshold higher.
10 Best Evolve Cards
But which of these self-improving titans reign supreme? These are the ten best evolve spells in Magic: The Gathering!
- Battering Krasis
- Simic Manipulator
- Fathom Mage
- Renegade Krasis
- Elusive Krasis
- Cloudfin Raptor
- Experiment One
- Gyre Sage
10. Battering Krasis
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3
Battering Krasis's 2/1 stats (two power and one toughness) are disappointingly low for a three-cost creature. That said, the lower your scores, the easier it is to evolve your unit, so it's not all bad.
In addition to his trademark evolve, Battering wields trample, letting excess combat damage pierce through blockers, and his fish and beast subtypes offer some interesting albeit uncommon synergies.
Like Battering, Crocanura is a green three-cost creature with a slightly better 1/3 stats. In addition to evolve, he carries reach, letting him block flying opponents, a useful boon to the generally land-based green faction.
Evolvers often carry odd subtypes, with Crocanura ranking as both a frog and a crocodile, but these misfit groups can occasionally help empower his fellow clan members. Either way, use him as an anti-air defense whose abilities scale as you field additional creatures.
8. Simic Manipulator
Yet another three-cost creature, this time belonging to the blue team. Simic is pitifully weak at 0/1, but at least this makes him ridiculously easy to evolve. You especially want +1/+1 counters on Simic because by tapping him and removing them, you gain control of an opposing creature with power less than or equal to the number of counters removed.
This is especially helpful for stealing defenders, whose high toughness but low power makes them easy prey for Simic's thievery. As a final gift, Simic carries the odd mutant subtype but also wizard, helping empower Magic's many powerful wizards.
7. Fathom Mage
Blue and green Fathom suffers an atrocious 1/1 stats for her moderate cost, but this lets her easily improve. More than that, whenever she receives a +1/+1 counter (whether from evolve or another source), you can draw a card, making her an excellent draw engine when adequately boosted.
Beyond that, Mage bears the abundant human and wizard subtypes, empowering several popular clan effects, and she allows two of her mana to be colorless, easily blending into multicolor decks.
6. Renegade Krasis
Renegade Krasis starts off surprisingly strong for an evolver, brandishing a respectable 3/2 stats. Still, you definitely want to play bigger units, because whenever Renegade evolves, he lets you place a +1/+1 counter on your other units who already have one, further empowering other boosted units.
With green's vast assortment of counter-giving cards, Renegade should have plenty of allies to fortify as he himself grows. While his beast and mutant types are uncommon, having two is always nice and allows additional combo potential.
5. Elusive Krasis
Elusive Krasis has the perfect stat blend for an evolver, with his toughness being impressive (allowing sturdy blocks) while having terrible power, making it easy to field stronger creatures and acquire counters.
You can keep this fish mutant untapped and ready to defend, but once he develops a bit, his unblockable makes him a fearsome attacker, perfect for landing opponent-combat damage effects seen on cards like the powerful "Sword of" artifact equipments.
Yet another green/blue mix, Shambleshark only needs two mana and arrives as a decent 2/1 with evolve. In addition, he harbors the rare flash trait, letting you cast him at instant speed.
This lets you conceal Shamble in your hand until the end of your opponent's turn, where you can safely field him after their ability to play sorcery or planeswalker removals has faded.
3. Cloudfin Raptor
For a single island's mana, Cloudfin Raptor joins as a weak 0/1 with flying, making him a nice throwaway blocker who can defend against both land and aerial assaults even without evolve.
Of course, once you field more creatures, Raptor amasses more power, soon becoming a surprisingly powerful warrior despite his inexpensive cost. Play him alongside fellow birds and mutants for clan bonuses, getting even more bang for your buck.
2. Experiment One
Experiment One is green's counterpart to Cloudfin. He lacks flying but begins as a slightly stronger 1/1 human ooze creature. Additionally, you can remove two +1/+1 counters to regenerate him, granting a sweet defense against removals or combat destruction.
Losing two counters weakens Experiment, but it'll make evolve that much easier to trigger, so he'll soon be back up to par. A handy unit, though another green evolver has him beat . . .
1. Gyre Sage
Gyre Sage's a versatile unit with a lot going for her. A 1/2 blocker isn't terrible for two mana, especially since only one has to be green, and she carries evolve to strengthen as you cast any of green's numerous big creatures. Even better, Gyre can tap to add a green mana to your pool for each +1/+1 counter she has, making her a surprisingly effective ramping tool!
As if that weren't enough, Gyre possesses two plentiful subtypes (elf and druid) that are much easier to supplement than most of today's lineages. From my "Omnath, Locus of Mana" EDH deck to elf-based decks in standard format, Gyre's a long-time favorite who has won me several matches. Best of all, she's a bargain deal, often costing under three dollars!
How to Support Evolve Decks in Magic: The Gathering
The most obvious way to boost evolve cards is to, well, cast creatures with bigger stats and activate their trait. You can further support them with cards that increase the number of counters your permanents receive, like green's infamous "Doubling Season." "Hardened Scales" and "Pir, Imaginative Rascal" also do the trick. And if you're using auras or equipment, they're usually better attached to other creatures so as not to boost you evolve unit's stats beyond your ability to increase further.
Evolve remains a relatively infrequent yet formidable trait that I hope to see on more upcoming spells, but for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of metamorphosing creatures, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Alexis on October 20, 2018:
Completely agree with the top three. I run a mono green stompy deck with cloud fin raptor and experiment one.